‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Transitions and Nightmares and Hugs...Oh My!

Anastasia had a nightmare last night. It's been awhile, but I knew it was coming. Whenever we approach a new transition, the nightmares come: Start of school? A week of nightmares. End of Grammy's visit? three days of nightmares. Vacation coming up? One nightmare and counting.

Next week Anastasia and I head to Florida to visit my mom and two of my brothers. Nothing delights her more than going to Florida, but the anxiety of the transition there is always really tough for her. The first sign of trouble is the mania. Lots of silliness, laughing, goofing off. Then a need for extra cuddling on the hour. Finally, the nightmares. They are always the same theme: the orphanage, physical abuse, and my abandoning her.

This one bears the telling, as some of you might have insight into what is going in in that little head. Ok, in her dream, she was back at the orphanage and the staff was chasing after her and trying to beat her. She decides to hide outside, and stands still in a garden, pretending to be a plant. The staff runs right by her not seeing her, but there is a very old woman sitting on a couch outside in the snow. She has a lamp there, too, but no walls or anything. She lives outside. She stares at Anastasia for "hours" and finally Anastasia can't be still anymore, and takes a breath. The old woman sees her and says " Ahh! I knew you weren't really a plant!" Anastasia is terrified that the woman will tell the staff about her, but the woman says she is very lonely and if Anastasia will be her friend, she won't tell the staff her whereabouts. Suddenly I am there at the orphanage, and Anastasia runs to me crying saying she missed me and hugs me tight. She thinks she is going home, but then I tell her I have things to do, and I leave her there and fly home alone. Somehow the staff come back, and she runs and hides in the orphanage basement, curls up in a corner and sobs. She wakes up crying (in real life) and calls to me...

Of course I listen and help her to process it. I remind her that she is never going back to the orphanage, and that I would never leave her. She asks me to hug her really tight. She says "My awake mind knows you would never do that, but my sleeping mind still thinks you could."

Then, out of nowhere: "Mom? Am I a bad person? I feel like a bad person on the inside."

"What makes you feel like a bad person?" I ask.

"I don't want to visit Anya in Russia. I'm scared. I don't want to see her again until she is living here. It's too hard. I'm a bad sister."

Now, we have no immediate plans to visit Anya. We simply don't have the funds right now. But somehow, I think this trip to Florida is connected in her mind with not going to Russia.

Then she adds, " Mom, I think part of this dream was about baby Ariella. I let my heart love her and then she was gone. I don't like that feeling. It feels empty in my heart. I think that old lady in my dream is me wanting Ariella back."

So, Ariella gets mixed up with Anya feelings that gets mixed up with Russia feelings that, in turn, are somehow connected to Florida (travelling, I guess.)

I hold her and run my fingers thru her hair and we talk and talk, and hug and hug, until she finally seems regulated. Suddenly, she is ok, and goes off to work on her puzzle. At the door, she turns to speak to me:

'Mom, just so you know, if I die in that plane crashing on the way to Florida next week, I love you more than anything in the whole universe."

Well, we obviously still have more to work through.


  1. Wow. She sounds like a great communicator. You are so lucky that she talks to you like that!

  2. I am not sure you have tried this yet, but I would pray with her every night that she will have good dreams that God will use her sleep time to work on her mind to feel that same as she does when she is awake. This has really worked for two of my girls and for me.

  3. Torina, this is a new thing...since the celexa started. She's MUCH more open now. It is pretty amazing. I never expected meds to make such a difference.

  4. Oh, it is so hard! I deal with this every single day myself and I'm still at a loss as to what to say - except that I have noticed that when my son tells me something like that out of the blue that he "doesn't" want to do, it is really his way of expressing the thing he wants MOST. You might try asking her after some calming time if and what she's been thinking and feeling about going back to Russia to visit her sister. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if you found out that she really DOES want to go more than anything in the world but is terrified of even going near the orphanage for fear that they will take her away from you.

  5. Christina, thanks...we will try that! I help her to pray, but we've never prayed about her bad dreams before. Great idea.

    And Diana, thanks for that perspective. We have talked aboutthis at length, just not recently. She is more than adamant she doesn't want to go again, because its too painful to see her sister and then have to leave. ( We visited in 06.) We even went back to her orphanage for a day. i'll have to remember to post about that sometime. it was. all told, a very good thing to have done. Going back with me and her uncle by her side was very empowering for her...especially when seeing some of the staff that were horrible to her. She later told me she "felt bad for them" because they are "stuck in that life forever."

  6. Annie dreamt allot and always told me her dreams. I think Annie was a very old soul.I think she came to help me and teach me.Things aren't always what they appear to be. You sound like such a great mom. Tahnk you for allowing me to be witness to some of it!jeNN


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